Friday, May 30, 2008

First Scene Snippet

Yesterday I hit on the first scene for Project Tevan. It's rough, but here it is. The same rules apply as always: please don't reproduce this snippet in any way. Copyright is mine sayeth the author. Remember, this is the very FIRST DRAFT. All comments are gratefully received.

"Flight Captain Varda," Wing Commander Haldur's eye's bored into me, "Do you have an explanation for why your wing was derelict in its duty?"

"No sir." I did, but not one that he would appreciate. Beside me Tevan stirred. I wanted to tell him to keep his trap shut -- or better, to cleave his tongue to the roof of his mouth. Wing Commander Haldur probably wouldn't notice the flashback from the spell. But I dared not take that chance.

Tevan piped up, "It was my fault. My seatur--"

Haldur silenced him with a look that threatened emasculation if he continued to be insubordinate. "Flight Captain," He flipped open the file that lay in front of him, "This is the second ... no, it's the third time your wing has failed since the year's turn." He looked from me to Tevan and back to me again. I caught his meaning. Since Tevan joined my wing as my pilot. Haldur arched an eyebrow at me. "Is there anything you wish to say about that?"

How was I supposed to answer? If I denied there was anything going on between Tevan and me, Haldur wouldn't believe it. "It won't happen again, sir. You have my word."

"I'll have your pips if it does. This time it'll cost you thirty days pay. Dismissed."

When the door closed behind us I rounded on Tevan. "Jaidick, Tevan! Is there any danger you might just be able to control that wretched beast then next time we fly? Or am I expecting too much?" Before he could reply I snarled at him, "Get out of my way," and stamped off.

It took five long cycles to get my Flight Captain's pips, and knowing Wing Commander Haldur, he'd make good on his threat if we failed again. Our job is to provide cover for the rest of the wing. The fact that, for reasons beyond my understanding, Tevan chooses to fly an unaltered seatur was no excuse for us failing to be in place before the attack began... again.

I was still seething when I reached The Weary Wench. The official name of the inn is The Queen's Rest, but the Flights stationed at Craigfelin renamed it long before my father served here. As I shoved open the door, the spicy aroma of liral stew engulfed me. They make the best liral stew I've ever eaten. It's even better than Ma's, and that's saying something. Garick was sure to be here if they were serving that.

I shouldered my way through the ocean of gray-blue uniformed Fight crews to the bar. A skinny lad wearing an apron big enough to wrap around him twice dived past me. I grabbed his arm. "Where's Garick?

He squirmed out of my grip. "Haven't seen him," he said as he disappeared into the kitchen.

Several members of my crew leaned against the bar. I slapped a five-talon piece down on the counter. "Drinks for the Flight, boys. Well done." To save them the embarrassment of having to thank me after what had happened earlier in the day, I added, "Seen Garick?" They know about Garick and me. Everyone within a half-day's march knows about Garick and me. Everyone except the Wing Commander, apparently.

They hadn't seen him either. I ordered a double measure of varich and tossed it down in one gulp. It brought tears to my eyes as it burned its way down. But it didn't make me feel any better.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A New Beginning

I've officially started my next project, tentative working title Tevan. I've been writing ideas and snippets on it for the past few weeks, while I finished working on ASF, but I hadn't set up a new book in Liquid Story Binder until today. I've set up my listing with 17 chapters (based on the final number of chapters in ASF), I've started creating electronic index cards using the Storyboard feature, and I've set up three dossiers for my three main characters: Varda, Tevan and Garick. I pasted all the snippets and ideas into a Note and I set up my project goals.

I'm planning to finish the entire thing by July 1, 2009 and, according to LSB, to keep on track I need to write 249 words a day. I can do that. On the plane today I made some notes on the culture of this world. Almost none of that work will make it directly into the final book of course, but I'm still counting on WCB.

This project was supposed to be my entry to Writers of the Future. Yeah, well, the story is already too big for that. But I'm going to start a short story project for that too. It can run in parallel to Tevan, then if/when I get blocked I'll have something different to work on. This should be fun.

Friday, May 23, 2008

In Praise of Charlotte, NC

Recently voted the Best Place to Live in America by (Check out the report here), Charlotte really is a nice place to live. It's not just that the weather is good. We have a mild four-season climate. It's a rare year when we see snow and even then it's usually gone fast. We get the occasional ice storm, a few nights when the temperature plummets to the teens, but that pretty rare. Spring arrives early and hangs around for a good long while. My daffodils are out before February ends and still blooming well into April. Summer is humid, admittedly, but not the strength-sapping humidity of Florida or Georgia. Fall is spectacular with the trees (and we have an incredible number of trees still) changing color.

Charlotte has a lovely city skyline. We don't suffer from rectangular, block-sided monstrosities. Each of our high-rises is an architectural delight. The people for the most part are welcoming and open. House prices didn't jump through the roof over the past few years as they did in many other part of the US, which makes it a very affordable place to buy into, and we are still seeing a steady increase in house prices. The market has slowed down somewhat, but it's still active. We have our share of crime, which city doesn't? Traffic can be awful, there's no denying that. But overall, it's hard to beat.

I'm not suggesting that it's better than where you live. It's not my favorite city. Tony Bennett had it right when he sang I Left My Heart in San Francisco. But it's where I live now, and it really is a good place.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Errr... okay. Adrienne tagged me, so I have to divulge 8 little known facts about myself. Ummm. Well... here goes

1) I hate, detest, abhor and loathe cold weather -- but I love looking at snow flakes.

2) I used to breed Old English Sheepdogs -- they're totally daft creatures but incredibly loving.

3) I don't like cooking -- but I love to bake, especially bread and pizza ... oh yes, and I like to make jam too, and marmalade and chutney.

4) I adore knitting, the more complex, the better -- but as we live in NC I have no excuse to knit anymore.

5) I joke incessantly when I watch movies -- it drives the spouse nuts but he puts up with it. Fortunately I don't actually go to movie theaters and inflict my humor on anyone else.

6) I would really, really , really like to ban all cell phones, pagers, PDAs, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry and any other kind of berry devices from being used in public -- but I keep my cell phone with me at all times... and I do mean All times.

7) I have a dreadful time pairing names with faces -- but I can remember all kinds of useless facts.

8) I can, metaphorically speaking, put both my feet in my mouth at the same time with the greatest of aplomb and not realize what I've said could be misconstrued -- but I take great delight in making puns and playing word games.

Phew! Let's see, who shall I tag now? Yep. Nancy... your it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mea culpa

Okay. Confession time. I didn't get my read-through of ASF completed last week. I only managed to get the first 100 pages done. Very bad. So I packed the manuscript back into my bag again and set out for the airport on Sunday. Made it through security with very little wait, and with 45 minutes to go before the plane was due to board, plonked myself down near the gate agent's stand, pulled out the MS and my red pen and started to read. After about 15 minutes I looked up. Hmmm. that's odd. The flight wasn't displayed over the gate any more. 'Kay. What's going on? Checked my cellphone(I don't wear a watch).

OMG!!! The flight LEFT 27 minutes ago!!

Leapt up (ms securely in hand), bolted to the desk. Yelped "Flight 2244 to Dayton?" at the agent.

Received a patronizing smile. "Didn't you hear the announcement?"

Does it look like I heard the blasted announcement? "No, no I didn't" I say, trying not to grit my teeth.

"Yes. I noticed you were engrossed in what you were doing."

Oh fine! But you didn't think to maybe come over and kick me, did you? "Yes I was reading."

Agent grins maliciously. "You should listen to the announcements, you know." Pauses for effect, then says "The flight's been delayed by 90 minutes. You're fine."

I could have kissed him, but I just smiled my thanks and sat down again. It only took another five pages to get my heartrate to return to normal.

ASF may never get published, but I know one thing: it's a page-turner.

PS I finished it last night and I've started the type-in of the changes. They'll be done by the end of the week. It should be on it's way to the beta readers on Friday.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What happened to the weekend?

Life, being what it is, has interrupted my careful planning for this weekend. Instead of doing my weekend chores on Friday and spending the whole weekend curled up with a good book -- to whit, A Shadowed Flame -- (I think it's a good book anyway), I had to work on Friday and a fair chunk of Saturday too. And on top of that an unexpected gig came up in Ohio, which means I have to fly out at lunchtime today.

Ah me. Don't misunderstand. Work is good. No. Work is great when I consider the alternative. But I have to get my read through done. So I've printed the whole thing out, all 432 Dark Courier (font size 12) double-spaced pages of it, and I'll stuff it into my carry-on which will make it almost impossible to wrestle into the overhead bin. That shouldn't be a problem, so long as they don't change the aircraft on me. Right now it's scheduled as an Embraier. The overhead bins won't take a normal carry-on so they take them on the jetway and stow them, then return them to the jetway on landing. I don't check my bag unless I'm forced to. But if I end up getting delayed or have yet another change in plans (it happens occasionally) I'll be busted.

Okay. I'll stop whinging now. I just want to let everyone know why I'm slipping behind with my revision. I will get it done this week, if I have to stay up all night every night to do it. I'm sending it out to the beta readers next weekend, and nothing short of a natural disaster of massive proportions is going to stop me.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Missd my words, darn it!

Yes, I admit it. Flog me. I didn't write anything yesterday, not on ASF, not on the new and as yet nameless project ( but ASF didn't have a title until the second revision so that's no surprise). I played with the WCB website instead. Not that you'll see anything new on the actual site. It was all done on my laptop. I made some significant progress too. But for reasons passing understanding -- passing MY understanding at least -- what works locally doesn't work up there. As I've set everything up to be the same this doesn't make sense. But then, I don't understand string theory either.

Now I have to get back to work and fit in some writing or I'll end up getting flogged again. That could become far to enjoyable!